Tech has made serious inroads into the medical industry in the past couple of decades, bringing new hardware and software into play, which is designed to assist in booth diagnosing and treating a wide variety of maladies. From such invaluable hospital devices like the EEG (electroencephalogram) to wearable tech that is used to help monitor different health-related activity, tech has truly made our medical prowess leap forward exponentially.
One specific area of medicine, however, has received little attention from the whole of the tech industry: mental health. This is not surprising, given that the field is still in its relative infancy, especially compared to traditional medicine. This makes the announcement of a new app designed to help predict the mood swings so common in bipolar patients a welcome step in the right direction.
I can speak from a position of authority on this subject more than most, considering that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in 1996. The years since then have taught me many invaluable lessons about how too manage the illness. One of the most important has been the identification of when one of the signature mood swings that lead to a full-blown episode is upon me.
This area is where PRIORI, a new app designed by University of Michigan psychiatrist, Melvin McInnis, truly shines. PRIORI is designed to record your voice during normal voice calls from you smartphone, after which it is analyzed for possible indications of an impending episode.
This is done by encrypting these calls, sending them to the University of Michigan and then having a computer program analyze the pattern and tempo for signs of excess excitement or depression. The actual substance of the call is bypassed, with only the tonal inflections considered. Studies have shown that speech pattern and tempo change when an episode is impending, making it possible to analyze them for early warning.
Coming from the perspective of the afflicted, this is an excellent idea, especially for those with limited social contact. While friends or family can usually identify these changes in speech, if you have no one available, this can be an extremely helpful tool.
While PRIORI is still in its testing phase, the possibilities it brings to light are very exciting, especially for someone like me. If you suffer from bipolar disorder, or have a friend or loved on that does, you will understand just how important it is to gather as many advantages to your side to help in combating this potentially-debilitating illness.
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